If you’ve seen the movie Me Before You, it may be hard to describe the feeling you experienced walking out of the theater. Personally, I felt kind of messed up, but I wasn’t sure exactly why. At least not at first. We’ve seen the movie’s hashtag everywhere, but what does it really mean to #LiveBoldly?
In case you haven’t seen the movie, let me catch you up to speed. The movie starts with tragedy. Louisa, a bright young girl living in a crowded home, loses her job at the coffee shop. Will, the stereotypical early-thirties businessman, gets hit by a motorcycle. Louisa doesn’t know how the family will eat next month. Will loses virtually all movement from the neck down and is bound to a wheelchair.
(No tears yet.)
Will’s painfully boring parents want a companion for their son, and they hire Louisa to spend time with him. Louisa spends day after day cheerfully making tea, attempting conversation, and flashing smiles. After a few weeks, Will begins to let Louisa in, and she discovers that Will was an elite athlete, famous businessman, and pretty much the coolest guy on earth. She learns that Will has tried to kill himself, but promised his parents to wait six more months before traveling to an assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland. Louisa is heartbroken and resolves to show Will that life is worth living.
(Some people are crying.)
Over the next few months, Louisa takes Will on magnificent excursions to horse racing and the opera and even to her family’s home. Much to her surprise, Will asks her to accompany him to his former girlfriend’s wedding. Here we see the best scene of the movie: Louisa dancing with Will as pretentious guests look on in wonder. She sits on his lap as he wheels her around the dance floor. It’s beautiful. Will is really living again, and Louisa is finally falling in love. She asks him if they can go on the trip of a lifetime, and they take his private jet to the Caribbean.
(Everyone is happy-crying).
On their excursion, they profess feelings for each other. They kiss. They go to the beach. Will makes Louisa scuba dive. Life is a dream. But one night, the dream shatters. As Louisa sits on Will’s lap under the stars, he tells her the truth. He still wants to kill himself. No matter how much he loves her, he will never be who he used to be. He says life is not worth living because he can’t ski and climb mountains and have sex.
What. WHAT? WHAT!
(The whole theater is bawling.)
Louisa runs away in disgust. The movie paints her as the villain. She is the able-bodied person who cannot accept the painful reality Will lives in. How could she not want him to end his struggle? She leaves the Caribbean and never wants to see Will again.
Eventually, Louisa “comes around,” and flies to Switzerland right before Will kills himself. The “sweet moment” of the movie comes when he sings her favorite song as he’s about to die. The movie then cuts to a scene of happy Louisa in Paris, reading a letter from Will that goes something like, “I hope you love Paris. It’s pretty great. I put tons of money in a bank account for you. Make the most out of your life. Travel. Do cool stuff. Live boldly!” The end.
(Everyone is pretty much out of tears at this point.)
If we peel back the layers of the drama and emotion, the theme of this movie is horrific. “Let’s convince all the disabled people that life isn’t worth living; they should end it all for the good of society.” The disability community has every right to be up in arms.
There is a God, and He is the giver and taker of life.
So what? A man decided to end his life because he couldn’t do the things he lived for. How is that not okay? Isn’t that his choice? If there were no God, this would make perfect sense. You would watch this movie and walk out feeling fine. We would all agree with the premise and even celebrate Will’s actions as heroic.
But there is a God, and He is the giver and taker of life.
Acts 17:28 says, “‘In him we live and move and have our being.’” To be alive is to have the indistinguishable spark of God within us.
Job 33:4 says, “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” Every breath is a gift from God, and we have no right to end what He begins.
This movie may have felt “messed up” to you because the breath of God is in your lungs and the spark of God is in your soul. The idea that man should suffocate that breath and kill that spark is profoundly disturbing to us, whether we acknowledge it or not.
Me Before You isn’t about “progressing as a society.” Me Before You is about shaking our fist at the all-powerful God who creates us, writes the story of our lives, and chooses the final chapter.
What message does this send to the millions of young girls who see the movie? How many depressed moviegoers, struggling with thoughts of suicide, will think, Life’s not worth living because my life isn’t as great as it used to be?
I cried as the movie ended. But I didn’t cry for the characters on screen. I cried for the thousands of young girls struggling with depression who have seen this movie. I cried for all the moldable minds in the row behind me who learned that quality of life matters more than value of life. That is tragedy beyond the scope of any movie plot.
Someone close to me is 99 percent disabled. He smiles and laughs, but he doesn’t talk. He doesn’t walk. He lives, and I love him. If there were no God, his life would have ended long ago. He wasn’t “supposed” to live, but he beat the odds, despite massive brain injury. His life has value, because he is made in the image of God. One day, I will see him walk and talk and worship God in heaven, 100 percent healed.
We were made for abundant living, and only by turning from sin and following Jesus can we truly #LiveBoldly.
This life is not the end. Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life, died on the cross, and rose from the grave so you can “have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Our moments on this earth are nothing compared to the eternity we will spend in either heaven or hell. That’s why this life is precious. It’s our chance to leave a legacy that echoes into eternity.
You were made for more than skiing and mountain climbing and sex. To #LiveBoldly is to live for the God who put that spark inside you and then experience Him in heaven for eternity. To #LiveBoldly is not to chase pleasure, then commit suicide when that chase becomes impossible. We were made for abundant living, and only by turning from sin and following Jesus can we truly #LiveBoldly.
About the Author: Joshua Thifault has been heavily involved in grassroots politics since 2012, works from the beach, and frequently speaks out on the ways our faith should affect our politics. He currently serves as the Advancement Director for Turning Point USA.